Federal Liberals have asked one of their electoral candidates in downtown Toronto to “pause” his campaign after the Star revealed he was charged with sexual assault in 2019 and that the charge was dropped later that year.
In a statement to the Star Thursday night, Spadina-Fort York Liberal candidate Kevin Vuong said he wanted to “unequivocally assert that these allegations are false” and that he “fought vigorously” until the sexual assault charges were dropped. in November 2019.
He said that fight would have continued if the charge had not been withdrawn and said it is “deeply disturbing” that the accusations resurface a few days before the elections.
“I will take time with my family,” said Vuong’s statement.
In a separate statement, Liberal Party spokesman Alex Lawrence said the party first learned of the situation on Thursday and that Vuong was asked “to stop the campaign while we investigate this.”
Vuong became the Liberal candidate to ride at Spadina – Fort York this summer, shortly after current Liberal MP Adam Vaughan announced that he would not seek reelection.
The woman whose indictment led to the sexual assault charge told the Star she did not know Vuong was running for the Liberals until she returned to Toronto recently to see his face on the election posters in the King Street West area.
Is the star policy to grant anonymity to individuals who claim to be victims of sexual assault.
Court documents show that the Crown Prosecutor dropped the charge against Vuong on November 27, 2019, seven months after he was charged and before the case had gone to trial.
“I met with the whistleblower on this matter for some time and with the officer in charge. (The plaintiff) had a number of personal problems at this time, ”Crown Prosecutor Louise Collins told the court, according to a transcript. “I reviewed this case again and decided that it would not be in the public interest to move forward.”
In an interview with Star, the plaintiff said she had several dates with Vuong after they met on a dating app in early 2019.
On April 8, 2019, he said, Vuong went home and the two watched a movie, went to bed, and fell asleep. Not long after, she said that Vuong woke her up by touching her.
“At first he touches my breasts and then he tries to drool all over my neck, and then he puts his hands down,” she said.
She said she was confused for a few seconds and then told Vuong that she had to go to the bathroom, where she said she closed the door and contacted a friend. The friend arrived at the apartment, told Vuong to leave, and left without confrontation, said the whistleblower, who also provided screenshots of text messages with the friend from that night.
The friend corroborated her memory of the events of that night.
Vuong did not address the details of the accusation against him in his statement to the Star.
The plaintiff said that she told the Crown attorney that she “did not have the energy” to go to trial as she had already gone through the trauma of going through a criminal case after being sexually assaulted as a child.
“At the same time (I told him that), he has to say something … or (face) some kind of consequences for his actions,” he said, adding that he told the Crown that he wanted Vuong to go to therapy. or advice.
The plaintiff said it was the only time she spoke to Collins. He also said that he did not know that the charge against Vuong had been dropped until Star informed him this week.
Brian Gray, a spokesman for the Ontario Attorney General’s Office, did not say why the charges against Vuong were dropped.
However, Gray said that, “generally speaking,” Crown attorneys are “obligated to drop the charges if there is no reasonable prospect of conviction, or if it is not in the public interest to proceed.”
Vuong’s biography on the Liberal Party website describes him as a “businessman, lecturer and military officer” who founded a company to make reusable face masks when the pandemic struck last year.
He was also named one of Canada’s “Top 30 Under 30s” in 2016 by “Corporate Knights” magazine, which described his service in the Canadian Navy and Toronto initiatives.
Controversies involving allegations of inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct have dogged liberals throughout the campaign.
Raj Saini, the Liberal candidate and incumbent MP at the Kitchener Center, ended his campaign on September 4 after the CBC reported allegations that he had made unwanted sexual advances and inappropriate comments towards Liberal staff.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who says his party has a zero-tolerance policy and rigorous standards for dealing with such behavior, had initially defended his party’s decision to allow Saini to continue as a Liberal candidate.
Saini has denied the accusations against him, calling them “unequivocally false” and “defamatory”.
The Liberal government has been criticized for its handling of sexual misconduct allegations that reached the highest ranks of the Canadian military. Among those facing misconduct allegations are Jonathan Vance, the former chief of defense staff who retired as the country’s top military officer in January, and Major General Dany Fortin, who was removed as the leader of the COVID vaccine launch. -19 from Canada and charged with sexual assault.
Both men deny the accusations against them.